This summer, Thor, the God of Thunder, turns 60. If that seems young, it’s because I’m not referring to his actual age in Norse Mythology but rather his first appearance in “Journey into Mystery,” which debuted in August 1962. That’s huge–not only because he looks damn good for his age, but also because we have been gifted with six decades of incredible stories from the House of Marvel. As such, his history, as with many other characters in the comicbook pantheon, is convoluted at best.

This week sees the release of Thor: Lightning and Lament #1, a one-shot that aims to shed some light on an aspect of Thor’s origin that is often overlooked: Dr. Donald Blake.

Taking place during his early years on Midgard, the Mighty Thor still shares a body with his weaker alter-ego, the mortal Donald Blake. Following a battle with the Absorbing Man, Thor transforms into Blake, a skilled surgeon, who immediately rushes off to an operation (no rest for the worthy, it would seem). During surgery and afterwards, Blake reflects on the strange nature of their dynamic, recalling the alien encounter that instigated Thor’s appearance on Earth. The good doctor soon finds himself on the other side of reality as both he and his mighty other-half are called upon to help in a battle with the Troll Empire.

It’s clear from the start that Thor: Lightning and Lament is an homage to the classic days of Marvel Comics. While Blake’s scenes are driven by his internal monologue, much of the issue’s narrative is conveyed through expository dialogue. In any other modern comic, this would come off as ironic at best, but here it conveys an oddly comforting sense of nostalgia.

As a long-time Marvel editor, writer Ralph Macchio (no, not that one) has crafted a script that reads like something from the past, and, given its setting, it absolutely works. The script is perfectly complemented by VC’s Joe Sabino’s lettering, which has a classic, contemporary look. This same style translates to the excellent art by Todd Nauck and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg. Nauck’s own work has that fun, throwback style that just looks so good, no matter what book he’s drawing. His depiction of Sif and the Warriors Three had me clamoring for a Nauck-drawn ongoing!

As enjoyable as this comic is, there are a few areas that didn’t quite work for me. Readers unfamiliar with the Thor/Blake duality may be confused, despite the exposition. It’s not always clear whether both identities are aware of what’s happening with the other or if it’s more of a Banner/Hulk kind of thing.

And while the story does inevitably show how both identities are crucial during a particular situation, the nature of their duality is never explored as fully as it could be, resulting in a one-shot that is good, but doesn’t seem like a crucial, must-read story. The book also ends with a bit of inner-monologue from Loki, a strange choice given his limited role in the story.

Thor: Lightning and Lament #1













  • Story: Ralph Macchio
  • Art: Todd Nauck
  • Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
  • Letters and Design: VC’s Joe Sabino
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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